run a tight ship

run a tight ship

Meaning | Definition

  • to be strict about something
  • to have rules in order to do something
  • to not let things go haywire in a particular situation
  • to control something or someone

Example Sentences

  1. Martha runs a tight ship at home. With 4 kids to take care of at home, she cannot have it any other way.
  2. I am trying to run a tight ship at work but my team mates have not taken me seriously yet.
  3. You sure run a tight ship with regards to your children’s education.
  4. Mother cannot run a tight ship around here if none of you are willing to listen!


The phrase originates as one of the nautical themed base which speaks about the strict behaviour by captains on sailing ships. If the captain is not strict about everything then it would be easy for the entire journey to be spoiled since sailing work is considered very hard and people would relax on their duties if it wasn’t for strict and hard instructions. Running a tight ship literally talks about being stern with instructions and following through. There are also consequences for people who so not do their parts well and in a timely manner, as instructed by the captain and superiors.

R 2 Comments


AuthorPaul Williams writes on 22nd June 2018

You are correct Sir , if judging this saying historically (Which my DAD Would have done)
But the modernists as they always do, have a alternative meaning
Read the above as they say 😉

AuthorElspeth Parris writes on 28th January 2018

Wouldn’t that have something to do with the tautness of the rigging? A ship with slack rigging is one that’s not being properly run- so to keep a tight ship would naturally come to mean efficiency, regardless of the strictness of the captain.

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